Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Enslaved

We visited our son who lives in Charleston, SC, a beautiful city with lots of history. Our family of four toured Magnolia Plantation. On the site were the original slave quarters. A tour guide presented an informative lecture. Here are a few points I remember: The main reason for the slave trade in this region was for growing rice. White slave traders stole Africans who knew how to grow rice. They took their freedom- they stole it.
Slave traders in this area also stole Africans who knew about animal husbandry. This is where the term "cowboy" first came from, not from Texas. An African man was disrespectfully referred to as "boy". A "cow- boy."
Mosquitos in the area carried malaria, which killed many white people on the plantation, however the enslaved were immune to the disease. For this reason most white people left the plantation during the mosquito season.

As you can see by the picture, slave quarters were about as basic as it gets. A square, small structure, with a small fireplace inside for cooking and heat. An entire family, sometimes double digits in size had to try to survive in this small space.
My son has complained many times how hot it gets in the Charleston area certain times of the year. Some days it does not cool off at night.
I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for these enslaved people. Imagine what it must've been like: treated as sub-human, stolen away from their homeland, and if they survived the journey from Africa in the crowded, awful conditions on the slave ships (a great number of Africans did not survive the journey) imagine what they had to face to just stay alive. They were treated like dirt. The "people" (monsters) who "owned" them thought they could do whatever they wanted with their "property". Women/girls were sometimes raped at will. Men/boys beaten or worse.

We watched a program on public TV about slavery. The biggest reason for slavery as a whole in the U.S. was for sugar production. Slave traders stole Africans who knew how to raise sugar cane. It is absolutely ironic that such an inexcusable, horrific practice as slavery is associated with such an unhealthy, addictive substance that continues to rob the health of people of all colors today.

On our visit to SC, I was shocked to hear that there are people who believe they are still fighting the civil war. North against South. White against Blacks. People still fly confederate flags on their porches. They sell cowboy hats with the confederate flag insignia, on bumper stickers, etc. In a family discussion, it was brought up that when elderly prejudiced people die, so do their prejudices. Well, what about their offspring who've been taught to hate?

I have one thing to say to the people who participated in the selling of people for money: What were you thinking!!! What gave you the right to think you could own another person?!

I was shocked to hear that there is still slavery going on in certain parts of Africa. Here we sit in America with all our freedoms and luxuries. We are gluttons, eating and drinking ourselves to an early death. We pay sports stars millions for playing a game. Over 63 million people in the world die every year from starvation related diseases. Anyone else see something wrong with this picture? What is the solution? What can we do?
My answer is this: try to do SOMETHING to change the status quo.
Try not to be prejudiced. Try not to make fun of ANYONE, ANY RACE, ANY SKIN PIGMENTATION. DONATE to a minority or hunger cause.
Go out of your way to be extra nice to someone who is considered a minority. Create productive dialogue with others about this cause.
Set a good example.
Please try to do SOMETHING.